Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Preview: Darkspore

7:00 PM on 07.20.2010 // Conrad Zimmerman

The basis for much of my opinion on Spore comes, unfortunately, from its spin-off games for consoles and handhelds. While the original title was something which captured my interest, my inability to commit to a life of PC gaming by upgrading this ancient computer prevented me from actually playing it. I'd like to do that someday because I want to know for myself if this is a series that can justify the marketing push which has foisted so many mediocre or worse titles on an unsuspecting public.

I mention this because I want you to have some background for the scene I'm about to set. I'm in San Francisco, visiting Maxis Studios and wondering why I'm there. The thought had crossed my mind that this would relate to Spore. Would have been impossible for it not to, but I wanted to believe that they were moving on to bigger and better things. I wanted them to be as embarrassed as I was for them. I'd forgotten about the trademark, a portent I was soon to be reminded of. My initial reaction upon seeing the title of the game I was about to see, Darkspore, was one of gut-wrenching fear. 

It pleases me to say that my sense of alarm wasn't necessary. Darkspore moves the franchise in a very different direction while taking some of the most compelling aspects of Spore along for the ride.


Darkspore (PC)
Developer: Maxis Studio
Publisher: Electronic Arts
To be released: February 2011

Darkspore is a third-person, action/RPG with a science-fiction setting. It tells the story of a race of beings known as the Crogenitors whose scientific studies granted them the capability to manipulate DNA by a means called "transfection." Infusing creatures with elemental properties using this technique, they created awesome warriors called "Living Weapons" which exhibited tremendous power.

Not content with this, the Crogenitors searched for ways to increase the strength of their Living Weapons and discoverd "exponential" DNA (E-DNA) and began experimenting. All subjects transfused with E-DNA invariably became hideous mutations, dangerous and unstable. These "Darkspore" eventually overpowered the Crogenitors, forcing the race that would be God into hiding for a thousand years.

The time was not spent idly. E-DNA has been stabilized in this time. Using it's power the Crogenitors are poised to unleash their Living Weapons and rid the universe of the Darkspore.

The story feels cookie-cutter. It is as though it only exists to service the expectation that because a game has RPG elements, it needs to have something resembling a plot. Thankfully, the story elements will be unobtrusive at worst. Unlike many titles of it's ilk, Darkspore is dispensing with the idea of acquiring quests from NPC characters in some sort of overworld. Plot elements will be conveyed through rendered cutscenes at specific points between levels.


No, Darkspore is all about distilling core concepts from genres of gaming and, like the genetic wizards of its exposition, blending them to make a different beast. On the most basic level, it is a game of "left-click to kill" where you contend with swarms of enemies that fall before your might. Elemental effects take on a crucial role, with enemies being weak and resistant to the attacks of your Living Weapons.

Since running into the wrong type of foe could spell complete disaster, you'll field a unit of three Living Weapons, which you may select out of all the creatures you collect in the course of the game. These are unique hero characters, whose skill sets are derived from being one of three classes and possessing the properties of one out of five elemental types.

Controlling one of your Living Weapons at a time, you can switch the active character instantly but must wait a period before changing again. Each character has some special attacks in addition to their basic moves and each also confers an ability on the squad. These special powers can be activated regardless of which Living Weapon you currently control and can provide environmental effects and buffs. 

The level geometry in Darkspore is static, but that's the only thing that remains the same from visiting one of the game's planets multiple times. Using random placement for environmental objects and an AI Director system to govern the spawning of enemies, levels should feel fresh regardless of whether or not you've tread its surface before.


This a chaotic game and one which was designed to be a cooperative experience. Up to four players may team up against the Darkspore, with incremental difficulty and loot rewards for higher player counts. At the end of stages, players are given the choice of walking away with their prize or pressing on for better kit. Players who choose not to participate simply drop out of the game while the rest go forth. Since the game has no experience system, good loot is the only way to increase the abilities of your Living Weapons, which will no doubt factor into more than a few decisions.

The Spore Creature Creator has been remade entirely to support the new graphics engine Darkspore is using. It's used to customize the look of your Living Weapons, giving it that player creation feel which so enchanted many fans of Spore. Most changes are only cosmetic, but that doesn't make it any less fun to play dress-up with your creatures.

That's not the only use for the Creator, however. Darkspore will also feature player-created content in the form of enemies. In fact, members of the Spore Creature Creator community have been making bad guys for some time now, unbeknownst to them. Player-made creatures are already present in the current build of the game and will continue to be added as moderated content after release.

Darkspore won't be out until February of next year, so there's still a fair bit of development time to go. What Maxis has shown so far is impressive. While it is unlikely to be hailed as a new revolution in videogames nor generate the buzz of its forebearer, it appears to be a smartly-designed game utilizing proven mechanics. I'm interested to know more at this point, which is certainly more than I would have said before having had the opportunity to see it.

Conrad Zimmerman, Moustache
 Follow Blog + disclosure ConradZimmerman Tips
An avid player of tabletop and video games throughout his life, Conrad has a passion for unique design mechanics and is a nut for gaming history. He can be heard on the comedy podcast () and str... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Time for Thanksgiving dinner, then more Shantae! [img][/img]
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
So Macy's parade had that performance from "The Wiz" which made me realize I'd much rather have seen "The Wizard" where everyone is dancing around wearing power gloves. Come on Nintendo, THE TIME IS NOW!
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Happy #Darksiders2 day-I mean Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Shinta avatarShinta
Transformers Devastation PS4 - $24. The Order 1886 $10. Digital flash sale on PSN. I think I'm going to have to bite on both these. And I hate digital if I can avoid it ...
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Remember folks, don't forget to smoke cigarettes in between courses during thanksgiving to help in digestion.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
For friends in UK that want a 3DS XL - 99.99 pounds [url][/url]
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Playing New Vegas again because reasons, it occurs to me that it'd be nice if Old World Blues gave me the option to move the Brotherhood of Steel to the Big MT instead of wiping them out for Mr. House.
ShadeOfLight avatarShadeOfLight
Near heart attack as for a minute it seemed like the A button of my 3DS was busted. It's fine now though, I think we'll live.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
There's now a £4/$5 Raspberry Pi. So cheap it's a cover extra on the latest Mag Pi. Based on the original chipset, it's single core but clocked at 1Ghz so it's quite a bit faster and oh so tiny. I can't wait to see what folks build with it.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
After a lifetime of not spending a single cent on FTP games, I finally broke and dropped €1 in the Nintendo Badge Arcade. I just had to have all the Luigi badges asap. I feel dirty. Plus side, my 3ds will be covered in Luigi.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
The postman just brought me gifts i bought for myself ... [img][/img] [img][/img]
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Umm.. no Microsoft. Where is the 'go away' button? [img][/img]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I tried driving as Uber last night to start supplementing my income and everyone so far has been super chill. Also, I started practicing in my sleepy small home city so the training wheels were still on. No big city bar hoppers just yet.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Just got my Gwent physical edition. I don't understand special abilities - for example, Arachas have an icon with two knights beneath the close combat icon. Avallac'h has an eye in that same spot. Help? (I'm no longer a squid btw)
KyWii avatarKyWii
Happy Thanksgiving all! Load up on carbs and then get back to playing Fallout 4.
Archelon avatarArchelon
New extended television spot for The Force Awakens! [youtube][/youtube]
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
I dunno if I just had a freak incident but I think Ubisoft may have just changed the Renown gain in Rainbow Six Siege to be less shit as in overnight they've patched it. If true, kinda good on them.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Does it mess with anyone else's head that when beating a SMBW level in Mario Maker the music doesn't do that little 'booowoo oop' at the end. [youtube][/youtube]
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I've developed a new hobby to indulge in while on Skype with friends: creating stupid Sonic OCs. I have so much fun making them for some weird reason, and once I have enough of them I might as well post a c-blog of them, am I right? Look out in the future
El Dango avatarEl Dango
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -